Appropriate intervention to revitalise the Durban Central Business District hard core : a physical design perspective.
The deterioration of the Central Business Distict (CBD) cities worldwide is a problem which has been extensively documented. As upmarket shops and offices have located to more attractive shopping centres and office parks in decentralised locations, the economic turnover of central city areas has decreased. This has resulted in impaired maintenance and a subsequent deterioration of the visual quality of these areas. Various approaches towards improving the public infrastructure, pedestrian environment, visual appeal and economic value of Central Business Districts (CBD's) have been taken in different countries. They include full pedestrianisation of CBD streets, traffic calming measures, general physical improvements to the public realm such as new street furniture and street surfacing, new public transportation systems and new municipal by-laws, to regulate the behaviour of CBD users. The CBD's of cities in South Africa have suffered a similar fate to a greater or lesser extent. Of particular significance in the South African context, is the increasing presence of informal traders along street sidewalks in the CBD. The CBD is also used by an increasing number of pedestrians. In the case of Durban, a combination of uncontrolled street trading and increased pedestrian movement has lead to a situation of congestion on many CBD street sidewalks. In addition, ill-disciplined taxi and bus drivers have contributed to traffic congestion. This is detrimental for registered street traders, formal retailers, pedestrians, motorists and future investors in the CBD. The aim of this dissertation is to examine and evaluate the West Street Pilot Project in Durban, as a means of revitalising a section of its CBD, and solving the above mentioned problems. The West Street Pilot Project (WSPP) has attempted to ease pedestrian flow by widening the sidewalks and creating nibs or "nodes" for the purpose of street trading. Certain of these nodes have been formed at pedestrian crossings, shortening the crossing distance. It has attempted to improve the aesthetic appeal of the street, by introducing new planting and street furniture and making this part of the CBD hard core more "user-friendly".